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Author Topic:   Detecting Intelligence - SETI and ID Compared
Straggler
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Posts: 10198
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 1 of 46 (644901)
12-21-2011 1:05 PM


What do SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and the Intelligent Design movement have in common? They both operate under the premise that we are able to meaningfully discern between things which have been intelligently designed by non-humans and things which haven’t been designed at all. Are they correct? If so what is the methodology for reliably and objectively distinguishing between things which are intelligently designed and things which may appear to be but which in fact occur naturally without the involvement of any conscious intent?

If (for example) we were to detect a repeated signal from a far off star expressing the value of Pi to 128 decimal places in binary emitted at the frequency of the Hydrogen line I would suggest that we could very reasonably consider this a sign of intelligent beings. Certainly SETI enthusiasts would consider it as such.

But what exactly is it that makes this an example of intelligent design? On what basis are we concluding conscious intelligent intent? And should this sort of example give IDists hope that their claims of detecting intelligent design of a more general sort has any validity?

If SETI can spot intelligent design what method are they using and can IDists apply the same methods?


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AdminModulous
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Joined: 03-02-2006


Message 2 of 46 (644902)
12-21-2011 1:29 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
12-21-2011 1:05 PM


I'm promoting despite there being an open thread on the subject (Compare and Contrast ID and SETI) because the older thread is ancient and many of the participants are no longer here and because this thread has a slightly different theme. I mention it merely for completeness.
This message is a reply to:
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AdminModulous
Administrator
Posts: 892
Joined: 03-02-2006


Message 3 of 46 (644904)
12-21-2011 1:29 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Detecting Intelligence - SETI and ID Compared thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
jar
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Posts: 29787
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 4 of 46 (644905)
12-21-2011 1:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
12-21-2011 1:05 PM


SETI seems to be looking for a Human or Human like technology. While it may wee also detect intelligence, it would likely only detect human like intelligence and even only a very small subset of human like intelligence.

It is not looking for "intelligence" in general but only the very narrowly defined intelligence of a human like technological system.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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Wounded King
Member (Idle past 1710 days)
Posts: 4149
From: Edinburgh, Scotland
Joined: 04-09-2003


Message 5 of 46 (644909)
12-21-2011 2:10 PM


Revisiting an old topic
I think it would be relevant to repost a link I first provided when I was discussing this topic with Just Being Real on a previous thread, starting at Message 395, in that thread he brought up the ID/SETI comparison and I linked to a short article by a SETI researcher on what he saw as the distinctions between the two.

The article is here. In it the author, Seth Shostak, makes several distinctions one being that rather than complexity what SETI is looking for is signs of artificiality in the signals they receive.

TTFN,

WK

Edited by Wounded King, : No reason given.


    
nwr
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Posts: 5544
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 6 of 46 (644911)
12-21-2011 2:20 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
12-21-2011 1:05 PM


What do SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and the Intelligent Design movement have in common?

They both have the letter "I" in their acronyms.

Christianity claims the moral high ground it its rhetoric. It has long since abandoned the moral high ground in its practices

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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 802 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 7 of 46 (644926)
12-21-2011 3:26 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by jar
12-21-2011 1:47 PM


SETI seems to be looking for a Human or Human like technology. While it may wee also detect intelligence, it would likely only detect human like intelligence and even only a very small subset of human like intelligence.

It is not looking for "intelligence" in general but only the very narrowly defined intelligence of a human like technological system.

The question is more "if SETI finds a signal, are the criteria they use valid for distinguishing between intelligent vs non-intelligent sources."

I think we all agree that SETI is limited in its detection ability to signals sent via means of which we are aware, like broadcast signals in the electromagnetic spectrum. SETI cannot possibly detect confined point-to-point transmissions like laser signals, and we can't hear what we don't know to listen for.


“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


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jar
Member
Posts: 29787
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 8 of 46 (644939)
12-21-2011 4:41 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Rahvin
12-21-2011 3:26 PM


Can we even recognize intelligence that is quite different than our own?

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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New Cat's Eye
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Posts: 11855
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 1.5


Message 9 of 46 (644943)
12-21-2011 4:51 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by jar
12-21-2011 4:41 PM


Can we even recognize intelligence that is quite different than our own?

Are you talking about the ID crowd?


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Taq
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Posts: 7282
Joined: 03-06-2009
Member Rating: 3.9


Message 10 of 46 (644950)
12-21-2011 5:48 PM


This is what SETI is looking for:

This is a narrowband transmission (x-axis) that sticks out above background (y-axis) and changes with time (z-axis). That's it. They are looking for this type of electromagnetic emission because they believe that only human-like technology is capable of producing it. Natural sources of EM emission have very wideband patterns, even if some have oscillations in intensity (e.g. pulsars, LGM).

It think it is also interesting to note that many "hits" (all of them?) have turned out to be human satellites. None, to my knowledge, have turned out to have natural sources.


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jar
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Posts: 29787
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 11 of 46 (644951)
12-21-2011 5:53 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by New Cat's Eye
12-21-2011 4:51 PM


No, of course not.

"Intelligent Design" proponents are simply irrelevant and can be just dismissed as such.

SETI looks for a very specific signal, one that shows a technology level similar to our current technology level. My question is could it detect something as being intelligent if the other thing was totally alien to our current technology? Is SETI defining intelligence as "just like us"?


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 92 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 12 of 46 (644953)
12-21-2011 6:09 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
12-21-2011 1:05 PM


SETI are running an experiment to look for something they can consider to be a known possibility (because they already have one example). I.Ders are claiming that they've already found indirect evidence for the existence of something that isn't a known possibility (one or more non-living intelligent designers).

SETI people point to one thing we intelligently design (artificial radio noise) and go looking for that same thing elsewhere with the ultimate objective of detecting the existence of other intelligent life forms.

IDers point to things we intelligently design, draw analogies to different things, and then try to make the inference that those things also are intelligently designed.

The two groups aren't proceeding in the same way at all.

SETI aren't actually looking for something like your hypothetical example. But I'd say that the I.D. equivalent of your example would be something like the discovery of a message encoded in our D.N.A. which, if translated into English might read something like "I am your maker. Signed Zeus".

Like your example, I think that would be a winner.


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bluegenes
Member (Idle past 92 days)
Posts: 3119
From: U.K.
Joined: 01-24-2007


Message 13 of 46 (644954)
12-21-2011 6:23 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by New Cat's Eye
12-21-2011 4:51 PM


Catholic Scientist writes:

Jar writes:

Can we even recognize intelligence that is quite different than our own?

Are you talking about the ID crowd?


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Rahvin
Member (Idle past 802 days)
Posts: 3964
Joined: 07-01-2005


Message 14 of 46 (644956)
12-21-2011 6:45 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by jar
12-21-2011 5:53 PM


My question is could it detect something as being intelligent if the other thing was totally alien to our current technology? Is SETI defining intelligence as "just like us"?

SETI has to limit their search to those methods of signal generation that we can detect with our technology. If aliens are using "subspace transmissions" or something else we've never heard of outside of scifi, well, we have no way to detect that as of right now.

However, the electromagnetic spectrum is very easy to use for signal broadcasting. There are very good reasons we use the EM band for our own communications, after all. Any signal used for communication would have to stand out against background radiation, and so would have to be relatively narrow-band. Direct point-to-point line-of-sight tight-beam communication methods, like lasers, would of course be undetectable to us in any case - only the source and the destination would see it, unless we just happen to wind up crossing the path of the tiny laser beam with a detector at exactly the right moment; which is to say they're undetectable to us in any case.

Sure, aliens might be using gravity waves or neutrinos for communication, but that sounds rather difficult to generate and detect, while the EM band is nice and easy, and still gets the job done. Faster-than-light communication is, so far as we can predict, impossible regardless of technology, and EM travels at light speed in a vacuum...basically, either aliens communicate via broadcasts in the EM spectrum, or alines don't communicate, or aliens of the right technological level don't exist, or aliens deliberately try to hide their transmissions from detection, or we need a major paradigm shift in our understanding of physics to even imagine the technique aliens are using for communication.

Any alien species is going to be working within the same laws of physics we are. Any significantly intelligent species is very likely to develop methods of communication beyond the up-close-and-personal old fashioned way. Any species that attempts to develop methods of communication is likely to eventually zone in on the EM band, because EM waves are easy to generate, they propagate well through an atmosphere and through space, and they're easy to detect and decipher. The similarities are not going to be driven by an alien species similarity to us, but rather by the fact that we live in the same Universe and have to work within similar environments.

From what I understand, SETI isn;t looking for anything about the intelligence, that is, they aren't trying to find something "like us" except for the ability and inclination to make obviously artificial signals powerful enough to be transmitted over interstellar distances.

Please note that that low bar allows for an awful lot of room for interpretation of the term "intelligence." An intelligent actor does not need to be even remotely like us; it doesn't even have to be sentient. The similarities required are only that they have the need or desire to communicate, and that they discover the EM spectrum and ways to use it for communication.

I'm not even sure how best to define "intelligence." I suppose the basics would be "any entity with decision-making capabilities," meaning different responses to different stimuli. That would range the spectrum from non-intelligent rocks, which don't respond to any stimuli, to basic life like plants, that respond to very limited stimuli, all the way up to humans, who can respond to even abstract stimuli like language.


“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers


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jar
Member
Posts: 29787
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 15 of 46 (644957)
12-21-2011 7:47 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Rahvin
12-21-2011 6:45 PM


a critter like us
We know that other species here on earth have developed other ways of communicating over extended distances, beyond up close and personal and even beyond line of sight. We know several species use ultra low sound waves for communication over long distances both under water and in species that live on land a system of low frequency transmission through the ground.

Now sound doesn't transmit well through a vacuum and so SETI can't hope to detect such signals so it is back to the EM spectrum.

The EM transmissions we made were of course not intended to leave earth so the broadcast EM material is primarily acceptable waste or unintentional.

We also know that at least two other species that use broadcast transmission for communication use methods and technology that would not be detectable across even interplanetary distances.

So again, SETI is not so much looking for "intelligence" as for "intelligence that is like us".


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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